Have you been subjected to Colorism? Coming from a country like India’s color unfortunately is a huge part of the system. It’s deeply ingrained in society and is something that’s not easy to escape. Even if it’s not directly affecting you, you see it affect people in their everyday lives. like my friend’s kid who is drop-dead gorgeous but thinks she’s ugly because other kids call her blacky. She’s six! Or the thought of women skipping meals to save money for fairness creams. Or the fact that skin color is still a prerequisite for marriage in many parts of India. Why should skin color be determining your place in society?? I think all colonies ruled by European countries have this problem. That’s what angers me even more. It’s like we are still enslaved by them in away.
What kind of discrimination have you faced?
Personally, it wasn’t bad. I mean my grandmum used to tell me not to go out in the sun because I’ll turn black or in school the lighter skin girls were always considered the pretty ones. Fortunately, my parents never, ever made me feel conscious of my skin. Colour just wasn’t a topic at home. I’m sure I have felt it more, professionally. I spent most of the past ten years working between Paris, New York City, and London, so I know that there are jobs I didn’t get because of my skin color.
How did you deal with it?
Personally, I was over it by age 16, professionally I don’t think it bothered me as much. I just realized it is what it is and it’s more their problem than mine. Also living in Europe for so many years I saw people literally burning in the sun to get a tan and it still didn’t look as good as my color, Ha!
Do you think colorism is more prevalent in the fashion industry?
I think it has changed a lot. In India, I feel like darker girls are what the market wants. Obviously worldwide there are representation problems but I feel like colorism is prevalent everywhere. I actually think being dark-skinned has benefited me as a model. I used to do a lot of swimsuit shots when I was younger and I know that being dusky was one of the reasons I was being booked. I think our entire country feels it.
Where do you think society’s obsession with fair skin stems from?
Lack of social education and I really think this country has a white superiority complex. Not to mention that the market is overflowing with fairness cream ads, perpetuating the myth that being fair equals a better life.
For all the girls out there, who are told you will never find love because you are brown in color, what would you tell them? That is a stupid story made up to sell a product to keep a billion-dollar industry on top. Also, self-love is all you should worry about. Once you have that you have everything. We need to first teach our girls that their priority is not to find love or to get married. It’s only about self-love and trying to be the best version of yourself.
What can we do to be more inclusive in our thinking?
I think first and foremost social education. Positive ideas/ images of people of all colors and lastly in an ideal world no fairness creams. Or let’s appeal to vanity, dark skin ages better, protects you more from sun damage and you always look like you’ve been on a holiday.
Could you share with us an experience where you were on the receiving end of melanin hate and how did you react to it?
I remember one time I was shortlisted for a job in Paris and I would pretend to not know french so I could eavesdrop on the conversation with the client. I clearly remember the client saying, “Oh! But in the black and white picture, she looked like she had much lighter skin!” So yeah, moments like that sucked but then I would just leave, get ice cream, and be done with it. For me, since this color issue was a professional problem I never let it bother me. Modeling was just a job. Not my life. I honestly feel beautiful and content with how I look and who I am. When I was younger it definitely bothered me I wasn’t obsessed with light skin but I definitely was aware that I was darker.
One person, who has made you believe in yourself and not pay heed to what society says? My issues with self-belief were more to do with confidence problems rather than color. But the one person who did give me confidence professionally was my ex-booker Malika who used to work at IMG. Personally, since the age of 16, I’ve never been bothered by my color. In fact, it’s the opposite. I love it. I feel like a Melanin Queen!.
Credit – TheMerakiProject